As individuals, we are making changes in our lives to reduce our carbon footprint, plastic consumption, and waste, but collectively we still have a long way to go. Although we have come a long way regarding the conversation around pollution and climate change, many people often find it hard to make the “Big Green Leap” for a variety of reasons.
So, here are a few, simple ways you and I can reduce our waste and make small but mighty contributions to clean up our planet. Most of the options that I provide below can be found on Amazon. So for my Prime members, there is absolutely no excuse on starting now and making an impact as soon as tomorrow!
1. COLLAPSIBLE + REUSABLE STRAWS
Photo Source: REI
According to Condor Ferries UK, at least 50 million straws are used and discarded in the U.S. alone, PER DAY! That's over 18 billion straws annually that, unfortunately, make their way to our oceans. And the scariest part is that straws only make up 1% of the plastic waste in the sea. So, when considering how to upgrade your straw game, whether it's a steel collapsible, silicone or bamboo straw, every single straw makes a lasting difference.
There is no question single-use plastics are one of the top polluters on Earth. It is hard to imagine, but the average person will use 38,000 straws between the ages of 5 and 65. Think about how many times you used a straw for a quick drink, tossed and forgot about it? Literally thousands. Sadly, we’re all guilty, but the great thing is the number of alternatives available now! Like this stainless steel collapsible keychain straw, you can take everywhere you go! It comes with a cool carrying case that hooks onto your keys and a cleaning bristle. The FinalStraw 2.0 from REI is available in 4 colors. This ethical straw is neat, functional, and practical. With so many options available in the reusable straw market, you should find yours today!
2. BAMBOO CUTLERY + TO GO CONTAINERS
Photo Source: Amazon
This is another no brainer when it comes to plastic use, or better yet, overconsumption of plastic. We use plastic cutlery, and takeout containers just about everywhere we go. You go to any fast food restaurant and you are given plastic. You go grocery shopping, and you are given plastic containers and/or plastic bags. When you pack a lunch, you more than likely are packing it in either a plastic bag, sandwich bag, and/or plastic container.
So, how can you and I fix our plastic container consumption? Simple! Get yourself a sustainable option like the 8-piece travel bamboo cutlery set from Amazon below. It has everything you need for all of your meals, even chopsticks, and a toothbrush!
It is all wrapped in a convenient pouch that you can roll up and toss in your bag. Talk about convenience! Get this, it is all made from 100% bamboo. The materials are specially chosen because of their strong, sturdy, durable, and eco-friendly characters. A quick tip: pair them along with the super-nifty Preserve 2 Go, BPA Free reusable take out boxes that are made from recycled plastic. This can also save you from the stack of take-out boxes in your fridge. We’ve all been there!
3. REUSABLE ZIPLOC BAGS + MESH PRODUCE BAGS
Photo Source: Amazon
Now, here's one that I myself am super guilty of committing, but we're here to improve, right? Right! Zipper storage bags are one of those things that we don't consider too much but are a huge plastic pollution contributor. The rezip™ Lay-Flat Lunch Leak-proof Reusable Storage Bags are another awesome way to start cutting back.
These are perfect for freezer storing, meal prep, to-go snack bags, and basically anything you need to store and go. One rezip™ replaces up to 300 disposable bags! Also, if you're shopping for produce for your meal prep, for example, mesh bags can be your new eco-friendly best friend. Seriously, just think about how quickly those bags are thrown out after their single-use. Check out these products on Amazon!
4. CLOTH DIAPERS
Photo Source: Amazon
Here's one for the parents. The new, the young, the experienced, the inexperienced. Just about any parent. Honestly, it's not an easy train to hop on, but if you're committed, cloth diapers can save you a FORTUNE. There's a variety of choices to choose from: flats, prefolds, fitted contours, hybrids, pockets, all-in-twos… you name it it’s there! It all really comes down to your personal preference and lifestyle.
Personally, I'm a fan of pocket diapers. Today's cloth diapers are as effective as any disposable diaper and they come in lots of styles, sizes, colors, and prints. Not to mention the number of chemicals in your average diaper today. We all know that we want, and our babies deserve, the very best! They have specific buttons that grow with your child, so you can reuse them for up to two years! They, also, have inserts that slide out for easy cleaning. Just rinse and toss in the wash, or wash by hand. This can save you serious money while making a serious impact.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that about 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped in landfills each year, accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste. We can all make an impact and do better together when we make the cloth diaper switch! Click below for some of my personal tried and true pocket diapers that I have found and grown to love. They make it easy to make the switch and if you really want to spring for luxury, pick up the BumWorks diaper toilet sprayer for super easy cleanup!
5. WATER COOLER + HYDRO FLASK™
Photo Source: Walmart and Amazon
Did you know that plastic water bottles take up to 700 years to dissolve, that 80% of them don't get recycled, or that 38 million end up in landfills each year in the U.S. alone? That's a lot of bottles going absolutely nowhere. In 2020 getting your hands on a reusable water bottle, or water filter is easier than ever! This is one of the best (and easiest) ways to kickstart your big switch to sustainability! I too was once an avid plastic bottle consumer, until I couldn't take the overflow of recycled bottles. Then, I decided to cut all ties and stick to refilling. An easy switch from plastic bottles to reusable bottles is a Hydro Flask™.
I urge you to pick up a Hydro Flask™ to keep you hydrated and to remind you to refill. According to the EPA, the standards for bottled water in the U.S. are exactly the same as those for tap water. In fact, bottled water isn’t even subject to the same reporting standards as tap water, and is actually considered a food product regulated by the FDA. Also, consider investing in an in-home water cooler. Not only does it save on plastic consumption, but It saves you space in your fridge. That’s a Win-Win!
6. TOOTHPASTE TABLETS, SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER + SOAP BARS
Photo Source: WellEarthGoods and Grove Collaborative
Health and beauty products are some of the notorious single-use culprits around. Almost everything in your bathroom is replaceable with a reusable option. Roughly 400 million plastic toothpaste tubes are thrown away each year in the United States alone, 1.5 billion worldwide.
Toothpaste tablets are a great alternative to change that. Unpaste™ Zero Waste Tablets are just that: zero waste. They come in a 2-month supply compostable bag, so there are zero traces of waste.
Shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles are also a thing of the past with bottle free bars. HiBAR Maintain Solid Shampoo + Conditioner Set is sulfate and paraben-free, color-safe, and made with honeyquat and shea butter for shine. For soap, try shopping local or handmade bar soaps, and skip the plastic wrapper. Sustainable beauty is real beauty.
Small, daily changes can truly create lasting impacts. Our generation is really making remarkable strides in reducing our waste and pollution, but it takes us as consumers to start taking those first steps. The statistics are endless when it comes to single-use plastics and plastic pollution in general. Let's collectively open up the conversation to our friends and family to make these simple switches for a cleaner, greener future.
Remembering to do little things like keeping your reusable shopping bags in your car, saying no to single-use plastics, and refilling your water bottle can start making the world of a difference. Check out websites like Grove Collaborative for clean and sustainable products for your home and lifestyle. These changes don't have to happen all at once, or even in the same month, but committing to changing your habits is the first step in becoming more sustainable tomorrow.